Mahalapye — Health and wellness minister, Dr Alfred Madigele has applauded secondary school students for continuing to save lives by taking the lead in donating blood.
In 2017, Dr Madigele said secondary school students contributed around 40 per cent of the total blood units collected.
Officiating at the commemoration of World Blood Donor day in Mahalapye on June 14, Dr Madigele said secondary schools remained the highest contributors in blood donation in the country.
Dr Madigele said the event aimed at raising awareness on the need for safe blood and blood products, and to thank donors for their life saving gift of blood.
The minister said in many countries demand for blood exceeded supply and as such the national blood service faced the challenge of making sufficient blood available while also ensuring its quality and safety.
"Adequate blood supply during emergencies requires a well organised blood service that can only be insured by engaging the entire community and a blood donor population committed to voluntary, unpaid blood donation throughout the year," said Dr Madigele.
He explained that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has a global goal of 100 per cent voluntary unpaid blood donors by 2020.
"Botswana is proud to have 100 per cent donation from voluntary and unpaid blood donors which is in line with the WHO Melbourne declaration of 1996," he said.
The minister said this year's campaign was focused on blood donation as an action of solidarity.
"It highlights the fundamental human values of altruism, respect, empathy and kindness which underlines and sustain voluntary unpaid blood donation systems."
The campaign, he said, was aimed at highlighting stories of people who had been saved through blood donation as a way of motivating regular blood donors to continue giving blood and to motivate those in good health who had never given blood to begin doing so, particularly the youth. "We are gathered here to celebrate the unsung heroes and heroines who are committed to saving lives," he added.
Dr Madigele said as the ministry they were striving to ensure adequate blood supply. "It must not compromise on quality and safety of transfused blood.
"My ministry is therefore committed to ensure that blood given to patients is safe," Dr Madigele said. In addition, he said his ministry would continue supporting all strategies aimed at improving blood collection in the country.
Despite rigorous campaign strategies put in place on blood donation, Dr Madigele said blood remained a scarce resource and that it was essential that blood be used rationally and only in patients who required blood transfusion for their management.
Dr Madigele acknowledged private companies, commercial banks, uniformed forces and churches for working jointly with the National Blood Transfusion Service to ensure that blood collection was improved.
He also said the University of Botswana was working tirelessly to guarantee that blood collection was improved.
"The University of Botswana's strong collaboration with the National Blood Transfusion Service has a positive impact in blood collection resulting in collection of 900 units of blood in 2017," he said.
The minister pointed out that since March 2017 a static clinic for blood collection was established at the university campus.
The out of school youth club, Pledge 25 has also contributed by raising awareness on blood donation, he added.
"They have cycled around the country raising awareness on blood donation," he said.
Dr Madigele appealed to all committed and voluntary blood donors to maintain a healthy living.
Source : BOPA